21st January, 2016
I don’t need to tell you you’re busy. We all are, and while there’s much to be said about making time to relax and implementing ways to manage stress, we can’t just ignore our to-do lists, right? We’ve all got a lot on our plates, and we’re all doing our best to juggle responsibilities carefully and keep all balls in the air. It logically follows that it would behoove us to find a way to work more efficiently in order to get a ton of stuff done in a day.
But why stop at getting a lot of things done? Why not map out a strategy that ensures you’re getting a lot of high-impact, purposeful things done as well? It sounds like a lofty goal to aim for once—let alone daily—but with a little planning, it’s relatively easy to ensure you’re spending your time wisely every day. Here’s how:
Determine When You’re at Your Best
Consider your typical day, from the time you wake up to the time you fall asleep—when are you on your A-game? Most of us are naturally more energetic, creative, motivated, etc. at a specific time of day than any other, and it’s a predictable time slot because it’s the same over and over again. Some of us do our best work immediately upon waking, while some of us need coffee and a bit of time to wake up to get cranking at full speed. Others don’t hit their groove until the afternoon or evening hours, and, of course, the night owls among us pump out masterpieces while the rest of the world sleeps.
Knowing when you’re most productive is fantastic self knowledge to have, and you should be taking steps to maximize the potential this block of time affords. This change alone can have a significant impact on your daily output.
Outline & Prioritize Your Goals
In an overall, big-picture sense, what are you trying to achieve? It’s best to consider your long term goals—as opposed to small, daily to-dos—to make the very best use of your time. Why fly through your list only to realize you’ve made very little progress in the areas you truly care about?
A one-year timeframe might work well here in choosing the right kind of goals to focus on. Examples of aspirations that fit with this exercise would be scoring a promotion at work, making progress in a fitness or weight loss pursuit, or getting some creative projects into production.
Once you’ve identified what you’re shooting for, you’ll need to prioritize, and rank your goals in order of importance.
This is as simple as matching your best self to your most important goal, and repeating the process until you’ve structured your most productive day. Let’s imagine your goals rank like this: 1) weight loss 2) creative projects 3) promotion at work. Let’s also imagine you’ve determined you’re at your very best in the morning, after you’ve had some time to wake up.
Your re-worked schedule might look like this: Wake up extra early, have some coffee, and spend some time reading, listening to music, or whatever gets your creative juices flowing. Once fully awake, hit the gym and give it your all (best self). Afterward, spend an hour or two on creative endeavors (second best self) before heading into work (third best self).
This is a basic, yet often overlooked practice to put in place, and it’s easy to see how doing so can help you squeeze the most out of your day.
Do you structure your day mindfully? What else can we do to hack our schedules?